FORTUNE – There was a time when web browsers duked it out for dominance on the desktop. But with users consuming information more and more on smartphones, tablets, and newer form factors like "phablets," the battleground has shifted to mobile. Who's winning?
As recently as June 2012, the competition was in a dead heat: Android led with nearly 22%, followed by Opera at 22%, then Safari on iOS with 21% according to StatCounter. Google's (GOOG) Android has cemented a solid lead since then with 31%, iOS at 24%, and Opera trailing with 15%.
That shouldn't come as a surprise, given the proliferation of Android devices. According to the analytics firm IDC, Android phone makers shipped 162 million devices during the first quarter of 2013; Apple (AAPL) shipped 37 million. (And in case you're curious, Windows Phone came third, with 7 million.)
RockMelt, a desktop-focused web browser that launched in late 2010, recently announced it was changing course. In the two-and-a-half years since launch, the innovative browser which integrated social network and RSS feed integration right into the browser window, only signed up 4.5 million users. Like it or not, the desktop market is a landscape ruled with a virtual iron fist by the likes of Microsoft (MSFT) Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. "Browsers today are just big dumb windows in [consumers'] way," Rockmelt co-founder and CTO Tim Howes told The Wall Street Journal recently. Rockmelt recently announced Rockmelt for Web, a content aggregator any Internet user with a browser can access.
On iOS, there's no shortage of Web browsers to choose, from Opera to the lesser-known Atomic Web Browser, all of which try to put their own spin on mobile Internet browsing to stand out: features like accelerated Web site loading, different ways to juggle Windows, bookmark syncing, among others.
But there's a problem for third-party developers. Much like Internet Explorer is the pre-loaded browser on Microsoft Windows, Android is the default browser on the Android operating system, as Safari is on iOS. Which is why, according to StatCounter, such offerings are at a distant fourth place right now. "The thing is, Safari and Android are default recipients of your link, and what's going to overcome that?" explains Forrester analyst Charles Golvin. You can download other browsers, but there isn't a setting like on the PC that makes a browser like Firefox or Google Chrome the go-to browser. "Until that's the case, we're not going to get as much real competition."
Still, companies like Maxthon, which The Journal reports has 120 million users, is pushing forward with its own desktop, mobile, and in-car browser offerings, which includes a deal this year with Pioneer Electronics where drivers and passengers can surf the web via touch-screen device.
Translation: The browser war is far from dead. They're just more cross-platform than ever.
Spotted touring Apple's new Paris Opera store on July 3
As Vice President Joe Biden was making his secret, unannounced Independence Day visit to Baghdad, Steve Jobs was apparently doing the same in Paris.
Someone who looks a lot like Apple's (AAPL) CEO was spotted on July 3 checking out the company's elegant new retail store on Rue Helevy, across the street from the Paris Opera.
The brief, 7-second video posted below (iPhone MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 7, 2010 6:33 AM ET
French fanboys camp out in the rain to see what Apple has wrought near the Paris Opera
Apple's (AAPL) pitch to journalists at Thursday's press preview was that its 294th retail outlet was an Apple Store like no other. Nevertheless, its opening Saturday morning was marked by the usual fanboy frenzy -- abeit with a French accent.
Set in a restored bank across Rue Halevy from the gilded Palais Garnier -- longtime MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 3, 2010 7:09 AM ET
Google today announced the release of VP8, a new video codec that it envisions will pave the way for the future of video on the Web.
While it wasn't mentioned once during the keynote, VP8 takes dead aim at MPEG LA's H.264 codec, which has the backing of industry heavyweights like Apple and Microsoft (who are both members of MPEG LA).
VP8 technology stems from Google's purchase of On2 Technologies last year. MORESeth Weintraub - May 19, 2010 3:03 PM ET
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